Fresh from a GT4 America Series campaign, in which she finished a close runner-up in the West Pro-Am Cup to ST Racing teammates Harry Gottsacker and Jon Miller, Samantha Tan will be partnering up with her ‘championship rivals’ to take on her first 24H SERIES race at the Circuit of the Americas. Just how keen is she to take a celebrated win for Canada?
Samantha, you’re entering your first Hankook 24H COTA USA in November. What expectations do you have ahead of the race itself?
“As this will be my first 24H race, I think that I’ll have to learn a lot about pit strategy, running for longer stints, and much more. It will be interesting for us to start considering the preservation of fuel and tires more than running the fastest lap times every lap. However, I have set high expectations for myself to work hard, show my strength in consistency, and ability to learn quickly. Most of all, I’m excited to have a great time out there!”
What can you tell us about your previous experience at the Circuit of the Americas, and in terms of a racing challenge, how does it compare with other tracks you’ve driven in North America?
“I believe that in all my previous races at COTA, I’ve done relatively well as it’s a track I’ve been to a few times. In terms of a racing challenge, COTA has an interesting layout with more high-speed corners than technical ones. I’ve had a couple of podiums there, so I’m excited to head back.”
You’re no stranger to balancing driver and team boss duties at ST Racing, and this year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA will be no different. Could you give us an idea what is actually involved with this dual-role and how it will be operated for a full 24-hour race?
“ST Racing is my team. However, given my full-time studies at the University of California at Irvine and training program for racing, I don’t run the day-to-day business. My dad is the team principal and he deals with our very capable and experienced crew chief, Ben Distaulo. When I get to COTA, it will be business as usual: I will let the team do their job while I concentrate on driving and gaining the experience of a 24H race.”
COTA was the first North American race event CREVENTIC hosted in 2017. How much do you think an event like this could encourage North American competitors to try further 24H SERIES races in Dubai and Europe?
“An event like this can only encourage other competitors to participate in a 24H race in Dubai and Europe, especially given the two day, 12-hour split format. I think that this format can make it easier to get used to a full 24-hour race, and it’s a good stepping stone for drivers that are curious to see how they perform in longer races.”
You’re one of several Canadians competing at this year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA. Given that you’re competing against a host of American teams and drivers in Texas, does this give you an added incentive to get the Maple Leaf onto the podium?!
“As a Canadian, I am proud to be competing in this year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA. I am used to competing against American drivers and teams, and am even more motivated now to step onto the podium carrying our Canadian flag. I think that the racing scene in Canada doesn’t receive as much exposure compared to the US, even though we have many talented drivers, so it’s an honour to be able to represent my country and hopefully bring more recognition to my fellow Canadian drivers.”
*This year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA takes place at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on 15-16-17 November 2019. Further details available on 24hseries.com